We've all had this happen to us: We write an email, cc everyone in the company and hit Send. A few minutes later, we've got 10 responses, all more or less saying the same thing. One hour later, you have another 20, or more. These types of email are largely useless, they inflate your inbox count and you have to take time out to sort through them. Experts have started calling these email boomerangs. If these email overloads annoy you, you can take steps to cut them down.
Here's how you can reduce unwanted email boomerangs.
In all honesty, it really comes down to asking yourself two simple questions before you hit Send.
- Is this email really necessary? If you hesitate on the first question for more than one second, then no, the email isn't necessary. Don't send it. If you're think it's ok to email, move to the second question.
- Is there a better medium for my message? Combine modern technology with old standards and you have at least 10 other mediums you can use to communicate your message. If you're writing an email asking colleagues what they would like to order for lunch, you're going to get a ton of responses, why not look at a medium like Facebook, or SharePoint Announcements, or the tried and tested whiteboard. All of these might be better mediums than email, so then it's up to you to recognize that and use them.
Of course, these two questions, while simple on paper, can be incredibly hard to put into practice. There is a cool infographic/flowchart on the Online IT Degree website with tips on how to deal with email overload. Some tips include:
- Put NNTR in the message. NNTR means No Need To Respond, if you put something like this either in the subject line, at the bottom, or at the top (basically where anyone can see it), and tell people what it means, you should see a drop in unnecessary emails.
- Use EOM. EOM or End Of Message can be used for one sentence emails. Basically you put the sentence in the subject line, and EOM in the body. The other alternative to this is to use a chat program. Instead of a one line message, just send a chat message to the recipient.
- Follow the three sentence rule. One way to cut down on email is to cut down on the content you provide in the first place. This efficient use of your words; saying only what is important, is something that could cut down on useless replies and content. As such, it may be a good idea to limit your emails to just three sentences. If you need to say more, get up and walk over to, or call the recipient. You can also put your thoughts in a document that can be shared, or attached. If you think an email will lead to a long conversation, with lots of replies back and forth, it may be better to just call the recipient(s).
With a few simple steps, and some forethought, you will see a decrease in the amount of unnecessary emails. The key here is, it starts with you. Keen to learn more? We may have a solution that can help, give us a shout.